Today's litany of verses looks at generosity. What does one do with wealth? Remember that when Solomon is writing these verses there were no banking accounts, retirement plans, long-term investments, etc. The means of holding onto wealth generally consisted of buying land, livestock, gold or silver or spending it on a house. This meant that the differences between the wealthy and the poor were immediately obvious. So, what does Solomon (who as king was very wealthy) have to say?
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without good sense. The desire of the righteous ends only in good; the expectation of the wicked in wrath. Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water. The people curse those who hold back grain, but a blessing is on the head of those who sell it. Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to the one who searches for it. Those who trust in their riches will wither, but the righteous will flourish like green leaves. Those who trouble their households will inherit wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but violence takes lives away. If the righteous are repaid on earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner! (Prov. 11:22-31)
Jesus, in his teachings, spoke about money and possessions more than any other topic. And his message is much the same as Solomon's. Money is not, in and of itself, the problem. It's what love of, or desire for, money does in us that's the problem. Solomon says, in verse 25, that a generous person will be enriched. The Apostle Paul said, in 2 Cor. 9, that the person who is greatly generous will be enriched by God in EVERY way. The temptation to hoard wealth was the same back then as it can be for us today. Yet the Bible tells us that something strange happens when we give: it doesn't make financial sense, but when we give, we receive. As Solomon puts it: the one who gives freely grows all the richer.
Meditation: God loves a cheerful giver. When you give of your time, your money, your talents, your service to others, do you give out of a sense of joy to God? If we're honest, it isn't always easy. Think about how you could do something for someone else this week in a way that will bring you, and them, joy.